Place matters. Where a story happens matters.
If you’ve ever traveled overseas you likely came home with a story. Perhaps about how you almost missed a flight out of Moscow because the flight agent wouldn’t let your board the plane unless you gave him $75, or a wonderful story about being refreshed by the cool air while skiing on glaciers in the Swiss Alps while on a mountain bike trip in Europe, or a crazy story about meeting a contact at midnight to smuggle Bibles into communist Czechoslovakia (these are a few of my stories).
Stories in our experience are always grounded in a geographical context. The location of the story has a direct bearing on the story. We intuitively know this when it comes to our own stories, but we seldom pause long enough to ask how geography impacts the story when reading our Bible.
So that’s the question we’re asking: How does geography impact the story?
If you’ve ever read through the gospels you may have wondered why sometimes Jesus, after performing a miracle, says “Shhh, be quiet. Don’t tell anybody what I did for you.” And, yet other times He says, “Go and tell everyone what good things the Lord has done for you.”
What’s the difference? It turns out that geography is the key.
Mark chapter 5 is a good example.
In Mark 5:19, after healing a demon possessed man He tells him “go to your home and to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you”? yet later in the same chapter after raising the synagogue ruler’s daughter back to life He “strictly ordered that no one should know about this” (5:43).
What’s up with that?
The location in 5:19 is Gerasenes, which is Gentile territory. Jesus was free to have news of his work spread because the Gentiles were not expecting the Messiah, so there is little danger in the Gentiles spreading news of the Messiah and trying to thrust Jesus onto the political throne. The healed demon possessed man wasn’t going to Jews to report what Christ had done.
But later in the same chapter (5:43) after raising the daughter of the synagogue ruler back to life, Jesus “strictly ordered that no one should know about this.”
The key is location.
Between these stories the location changes. In Mark 5:21, Jesus had crossed back into Jewish territory, where the Jews were expecting a Messiah - a powerful political Messiah who would establish justice, overthrow Rome and set up a political kingdom. Jesus didn’t want to fuel that erroneous idea about his identity, purpose and mission.
Jesus had one goal: to offer Himself up as the supreme and only sacrifice for our sins. This mission could have been hindered if people began to use his miracles as evidence for his political messiahship. That’s why when he did miracles in Jewish areas he told them to keep quiet.
So, the application for today: Slow down when reading our Bibles and pay attention to location. It matters. Also, have you considered how location has shaped, or is shaping your own story?
Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today,